by Thrangu Rinpoche Geshe Lharampa Translated by Ken and Katia Holmes
The Lineage of the Four Dharmas of Gampopa
It is said that the teachings of the Kagyu lineage originated from
the dharmakaya Buddha Vajradhara. We might think, “Wait a minute. I thought that the Buddhist teachings came from the Shakyamuni Buddha.” However, the mind of the Buddha is the dharmakaya and he manifested in our world in a body as the
Buddha Shakyamuni in a nirmanakaya emanation.
So there is no difference between the dharmakaya and the Buddha
Shakyamuni who was born in India 2,500 years ago. The dharmakaya is not something that is born and later dies; it is not something that needs to pass beyond samsara. The
Dharmakaya has three qualities: knowledge, compassion, and skillful means. These three qualities are not just qualities of the Buddha, but they are the very nature of wisdom (Skt. jnana).
This wisdom of the dharmakaya appears to students in two ways.
The first is to highly realized students in the form of the sambhogakaya. For example, these pure students would visit the pure lands and see Vajradhara and other bodhisattvas as they
appear in a thangka with various ornaments and so on.
The second is the nirmanakaya as an ordinary being such as the Shakyamuni Buddha’s appearance in India many centuries ago. However, these two forms are not fundamentally different from each other because Vajradhara is the mind of both the sambhogakaya and the nirmanakaya. The sambhogakaya Vajradhara can only be met by the great bodhisattvas and the
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